shares his thoughts about attacks
Sixth District Con-gressman Sam Graves was in Platte County
this week, having returned to his district on Saturday
after being in Washington when terrorists hijacked planes
and crashed them into the Pentagon and into the World
Trade Center towers in New York City.
During a stop in The Landmark office on Monday
afternoon, Congressman Graves spoke about the day of the
"It started off like any other day for millions
of Americans and me. But the normalcy of the day would
not last long," he said, explaining how he and fellow
Congressmen became aware of how serious the situation
had become when the Speaker of the House was whisked away
by Secret Service personnel to ensure the order of presidential
succession. The Speaker of the House is second only to
the vice president in the line of presidential order.
Graves said last Tuesday's attacks on our nation "took
the American people by complete surprise, more so than
even the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor."
Graves confirmed reports that the attack on the Pentagon
could have been much worse in terms of casualties if not
for the fact a good portion of the building where the
plane struck was under renovation. Had the plane hit on
the opposite side of the building, there would have been
more victims, perhaps more key Pentagon leaders included.
About 190 people were killed.
As it is, Graves said, "It seems almost impossible
that anyone could survive the impact and destruction that
occurred," on the Pentagon.
Graves said it's not clear that the Pentagon was the
initial intended target, with some speculation that the
plane actually initially targeted the White House. Also,
there is speculation the hijacked plane that crashed in
a field in Pennsylvania killing all on board but nobody
on the ground may have been headed to the Capitol Building
Graves said what does seem clear is that passengers on
that Pennsylvania plane took action against the hijackers.
"It seems clear they made an attempt to take back
control of the plane," he said of the passengers.
The Congressman said that while terrorists had declared
war on America years ago, "few people before Tuesday
had heeded their threats."
America remains strong, however, Graves emphasized.
"Despite diversity and adversity, we are still the
greatest nation in the world.
"All Americans must come together and do what they
can to assist the nation's war effort. Whether it's giving
blood, sending donations, praying for the thousands of
grieving families or simply saying thanks to the brave
men and women who put their lives on the line each and
every day so that we may be free, it's important that
we are vigilant and patient in our efforts to overcome
this evil," Graves said.
Graves said the forthcoming military effort, which President
Bush has referred to as a war on terrorism, is a war that
"we must, can, and will win."
He related the story of a walk he took on the National
Mall this past week. As he was there with thousands of
people who came together to pray, to sing and to gain
strength from others around them, he said he looked in
admiration on the Washington Monument that shown brightly
above the thousands of candles flickering below.
"Its brilliance pointing to the heavens renewed
my faith in our nation, its people and our future.
"In the years to come, we will all see more dark
days, yet through it all, our virtues, our determination
and our faith shall shine brightly on this nation and
the world," he said.
He then echoed the words of President Bush:
"We'll seek out those that harbor hatred and terror
in their hearts and we will defeat them," he said.